Many e-commerce companies in the country are embezzling hundreds of crores of taka from people through their deceptive strategies of business promotion.
However, it is not possible to take appropriate legal action in proper time due to lack of specific authority and laws, regulations, and policies.
The e-commerce platform as well as the online-based marketplace began its journey in Bangladesh without any legal framework. The online-based business spread more during the Covid-19 pandemic situation. Many people rely on online purchases in such a situation.
However, a significant proportion of consumers are dissatisfied with the service of the online-based platforms. The e-commerce sites place many free offers, while the foreign e-commerce companies like Alibaba or Amazon don’t have such offers. In Bangladesh, many customers are being attracted to the offers of e-commerce sites and become victims of deception.
Legal experts and lawyers said that currently there is no specific regulatory authority or legal framework for the e-commerce sector in Bangladesh. Against this backdrop, a number of laws are being applied in any dispute and case related to the e-commerce sector.
Dr. Sayeeda Anju, a Law professor at Rajshahi University, said that the existing legal framework in Bangladesh does not recognize the online transaction properly. She cited examples from some existing laws.
‘The Sale of Goods Act, 1930’ is one of the existing laws in the country which regulates the legal arena of sale contracts. The law is an old law and mostly superseded by some other special laws, said Prof Sayeeda Anju.
‘The Consumer Rights Protection Act, 2009’ is another law for the protection of the rights of the consumers and customers. But like the above-mentioned act, this law is also silent on e-business, the Law professor added.
“We need a specific legal framework and specific regulatory authority to deal with the e-commerce sector,” she opined.
Attorney General AM Amin Uddin also admitted the legal complexity of e-commerce. During a hearing in the High Court on Sunday, he said that e-commerce businesses should come under specific law to protect consumers from fraud.
The Attorney General said, “As far as I know, there is no specific law on e-commerce. It has to be covered by the law, he said.
The High Court bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Mustafizur Rahman during a hearing in a writ petition on September 19 observed the importance of launching a public campaign against deceitful e-commerce to protect the interest of consumers and rein in such deceitful incidents in the country.
Meanwhile, the Digital Commerce Operation Guidelines, 2021 has been formulated this year. As per the guideline, the Commerce Ministry can deal with the problems related to e-commerce but it is not sufficient to control the corruption and deceitful activities of e-commerce sites.
“The promulgation of the Digital Commerce Operation Guidelines, 2021 is a milestone for regulating the e-commerce sector in Bangladesh, but its proper implementation is crucial. The guideline will briefly address a number of operational processes like purchase, delivery, payment, and refund, and those are interlinked with a number of legal challenges,” said Md Arif Hossain, a lawyer of the Bangladesh Supreme Court.
He said that there is no specific statutory law over the e-commerce business. Although the guideline has been formulated, it was not done under any statutory law. Only some selective legal issues have been discussed in the guideline, he added.
Prof Sayeeda Anju said that The Digital Commerce Operations Guidelines, 2021 do not contain any specific provision to protect the rights of the sellers.
Meanwhile, a writ petition has been filed in the High Court seeking directions to set up an e-commerce regulatory authority. Md Anwarul Islam Badhan, a Supreme Court lawyer, filed the writ petition on Monday (September 20).
According to the lawyer, the High Court bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Mostafizur Rahman will hear the writ petition.